Republic’s pistol offense came out as hot as its namesake and never cooled off Friday night, scoring on its first five possessions as the Tigers rolled to a 40-14 homecoming win over rival Willard.
Quarterback Zach Hall was the trigger for the Tigers’ offense, completing 20 of 27 passes for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also rushed the ball three times for 12 yards and another score.
“Zach did what we thought he’d do,” said Republic coach Kurt Thompson. “He’s got a skill set that brings a lot to us, and he did a good job running our offense. We win as a team and we lose as a team, and this win was very good for us tonight.”
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RHS moved the ball as efficiently on the ground as they did through the air in their clinical first half, striking twice through the air and twice on the ground to pile up a 28-0 lead at the break. Hall found TJ Ray on a 14-yard strike to open the scoring, as Ray bounced off a tackler and dove across the goal line to give Republic a 6-0 lead. Their second strike was much less contested, as Hall spied a wide-open Grant Hancock for a 15-yard connection late in the first quarter.
“Our line blocked hard and the receivers were working hard running their routes,” said Hall. “We came out with a perfect gameplan and we executed.”
The junior gunslinger credited everyone but himself for the win, which improves Republic to 3-4 on the season, 1-4 in Central Ozark Conference Large Division play.
“We have a senior corps of receivers, they’re all great guys, have great hands, and deserve to go to college,” said Hall. “They helped me out a lot. My offensive line is made up of great guys. They work hard, they lift weights hard, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Their dominance through the air established, RHS started piling up yards on the ground. TK Brigance’s 5-yard counter and a two-yard scramble by Hall on the final play of the half put the game well out of reach as the teams headed to their locker rooms.
Not that Republic was done scoring.
A 48-yard catch-and-carry by Garrett Metscher set up a 1-yard plunge by workhorse tailback Kerik Crouse to open the third quarter, and a three-yard pass from Hall to Metscher capped a stellar offensive night for the Tigers, who Thompson said were struggling with their confidence leading up this game
“The month of September was pretty long for us, and I wasn’t sure how our kids were going to respond,” said Thompson. “We were very nervous coming into this. I’m not sure we had the best week of practice, and our kids have been lacking confidence. But coming out and starting like we did tonight was very good for us. We’re awful proud of our kids. They’re very deserving of it.”
Metscher led Republic’s receivers, with 6 catches for 108 yards and a score. Beau Allen had 7 catches for 84 yards. Crouse ended his workmanlike night with 84 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
“We were hyped up for homecoming and had to get after it,” said Crouse. “We played tough and our line did a really great job. We just have to execute and that’s what we did tonight.”
Willard (2-5, 1-4) didn’t go quietly. After running just 18 plays and crossing midfield just once in the first half, the visitors scored twice in the second half . Luke He plunged in from two yards out, while quarterback Justin Atchison floated a 13-yard pass into the end zone for Austin Textor. Both scores came in the fourth quarter.
“For us it is all about confidence and believing that we can make the play,” said Willard coach Brock Roweton. “We’ve got guys that can make the play, we’ve just got to believe that we can. Tonight, from the get-go, we did not believe it and they exploited us in every way.”
Tanner Moore rushed 20 times for 100 yards to lead Willard. Atchison was 4-for-7 passing, for 42 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.